I Used to Date (somebody famous)

Posted on June 2, 2011

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We live in a time where many contradictory elements often coincide in such a manner that we feel trapped by where they lead us. We need to have a great, nay, stellar resume, else we end up on the bottom of the stack, and trapped in obscurity. We are constantly bombarded by fame – it’s allure, it’s demands, it’s foibles. We are increasingly isolated (yes, even with the advent of the Web and all those “friends,” we are more alone than ever,) and the need to make real connections feels more difficult than ever before. There are of course more than these three, but they will serve as well as any for our purposes today.

There has been a significant number of cases where lies are uncovered on resumes, perhaps the more troubling being those where the liar claims to have served in the military, or received some high military honor, or to have held a rank that was significantly above the truth of the matter. While we might say such lies do not really harm anyone in particular, they do in fact cause harm of several sorts. First, they diminish the value of the service actually performed by those who do not need to lie about their service, medals, or rank. They do this because, by promulgating this lie (prior to it’s being outed) all who have been exposed to it held that individual in a more trustworthy light, and post-outing, their trust is destroyed. The next time an employer, or a potential spouse, encounter someone who present their military credentials, that distrust generated by the lie taints the next candidate in line. Thus, the lie may in fact harm an individual, who may never even be aware of the source of the harm.

Second, such a lie causes those who believed this lie to doubt their own capacity to reliably read the trustworthiness of potential employees, spouses, even friends. When we suffer such damage, subtle though it may seem, we run a risk of losing what might otherwise be excellent opportunities in knowing such people. All this because someone lied about something they thought could hurt no one.

We knew a man many years ago who once met a famous rock star. He apparently mentioned in passing he had been in this woman’s house on the occasion, and that he was thrilled to have had such an opportunity. Many years later, at a family gathering, he was approached by a nephew who want to know what it had been like having this rock star as a lover. Our friend was floored. “Who told you something like that,” he asked the nephew. He was told that his mother, our friends sister, had so informed him. It turned out this sister had developed a habit of drastically expanding and stretching the truth so as to bask in the reflection of fame, or at least close proximity to someone famous. Through this lie (which is after all what it was,) her own son had formed an impression of his uncle that bore no relationship to reality, and when his uncle dashed his false beliefs on the rock of truth, his nephew began to draw away from his own mother, something that culminated several years later when the youth cut off all contact with his mother after leaving home.

The point here is how a so-called “little exaggeration” is not always little, and hardly ever without consequences. We inflate our ego only to crash to earth once it is punctured, and always by our own hand.

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